Tag: overseas employment

Myths about OFWs

THERE IS just too much bleeding-heart sentimentalization over overseas Filipino workers, bordering on ridiculousness. They have been practically mythologized, in a manner they themselves would detest.

Yes, there are horror stories—runaways from cruel employers with no one to turn to in a strange land, young women forced into prostitution—but we have to put things in perspective. We are talking here of a population of eight million OFWs, nearly as big as the population of Switzerland or Greece.

One reason for the depiction of OFWs as the downtrodden of the earth is that their alleged plight are being exploited by NGOs, here and abroad, which get donations from European leftist organizations or Christian do-gooder associations, purportedly in order to come to the succor of these “slaves” of global capitalism. More often, though, the donations merely finance the fat salaries (they call it “allowances”) of NGO elites who often have never worked a regular job yet manage to enjoy the comforts of cosmopolitan cities.

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Middle East Unpreparedness Team

IN DECEMBER 2002, or a decade go, when the US invasion of Iraq was imminent, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo organized the Philippine Middle East Preparedness Committee under Executive Order No. 159. Its functions though went beyond the Iraq crisis, and was based on the appreciation of the fact that more than a million of our citizens were working in Middle East countries, which for various reasons (as in the case of the Iraq war) could suddenly become a hostile place for them.

She gave the committee enormous powers, and its main function is exactly, eerily, what is needed now: “[It] shall, in relation with the critical developments in the Middle East, prepare the appropriate responses, formulate policies, develop modes for coordination, put into effect all plans approved by the President and monitor their implementation accordingly, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs.”

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